BSC Office of Communications

News from the Hilltop

January 14, 2008

Popular mystery writer Walter Mosley to be Books-A-Million Grand Master at Birmingham-Southern's Writing Today 2008 conference

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Walter Mosley will serve as the Books-A-Million Grand Master for Writing Today 2008, at Birmingham-Southern College. The 28th annual event, in its new partnership with Books-A-Million, will be March 7 and 8, 2008, on the BSC campus.

Mosley, one of the most revered writers in the country, is best known for his popular mysteries featuring private investigator Easy Rawlins. His first Rawlins novel, “Devil in a Blue Dress,” was made into a film starring Denzel Washington. Other books in the series include the “New York Times” bestsellers “Bad Boy Brawly Brown,” “Black Betty,” “A Red Death,” “A Little Yellow Dog,” “Cinnamon Kiss,” “Little Scarlet,” and his most recent novel “Blonde Faith.”

Major speakers for the 2008 conference include Julianna Baggott (a.k.a. N.E. Bode), the author of three books of poems and five novels, and Frank Deford, a senior contributing writer for “Sports Illustrated,” a commentator on NPR's “Morning Edition,” and a correspondent on HBO's “RealSports” with Bryant Gumbel.

Mosley is an active voice for the African-American community in the ongoing effort for racial equality. In his essays and nonfiction, he examines ways that the African-American perspective can contribute to political, economic, and social progress in America. Among his many awards, he was honored in 2004 with the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Writing Today conference brings literary professionals from around the country to the college's campus for sessions and lectures on the craft of writing, as well as practical information related to publishing literary works. It has included local writers who are well-known nationally, and has also brought to Birmingham many prominent editors, publishers, and agents.

Baggott's novels include national bestsellers “Girl Talk,” “The Miss America Family,” “The Madam,” and “Which Brings Me to You” (co-authored with Steve Almond), and novels for younger readers under her pen name of Bode including “The Slippery Map” (prequel to the movie “Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium”). She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Florida State University.

Deford is a winner of many awards including an Emmy and a Peabody Award, and he has received the Sportswriter of the Year Award six times and has been elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters. He is the author of 15 books, two of which have been made into movies (the novels “Everybody's All-American,” and “Alex, the Life of a Child,” his memoir of his daughter who died of cystic fibrosis).

Conference presenters for Writing Today 2008 include Linda J. Beam, who served as managing editor of Gryphon Editions and Crane Hill Publishers/Cliff Road Books before beginning her current work as a freelance writer and editor; Daryl Brown, a published author of both fiction and non-fiction who formerly taught at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and now teaches at the University of North Alabama; Ruth Beaumont Cook, author of four corporate histories and numerous articles for “Birmingham” magazine and other publications on business, health, and the arts; Scott Fuller, a BSC alumnus and graphic artist engaged in book publication who worked more than 20 years in the advertising department at “The Birmingham News;” Elizabeth Hughey, a native of Birmingham who now lives and teaches in Massachusetts who won the 2006 prestigious Iowa Poetry Prize by the University of Iowa; Sally Hill McMillan, a literary agent who worked as a commercial book publicist for 33 years, 10 of which were spent as owner, acquisitions editor, and production manager of The East Woods Press; Joe Musso, a playwright whose plays have been produced or received professional staged readings in 15 states; Gin Phillips, a BSC alumna who is a published author and freelance writer; Lee Shackleford, a writer for stage, screen, and radio with over 100 produced scripts to his credit; Sharrif Simmons, a performance artist, songwriter, and activist whose writing career has spanned more than a decade; Nathan Hale Turner Jr., an author-journalist who is a veteran copy editor at “The Birmingham News;” Maria Vargas, born in Nicaragua, and a local poet, editor and translator; and Logan Ward, a freelance writer who has written and worked as a contributing editor for many popular national magazines and who writes regularly about science and architecture.

As part of the Writing Today outreach program, the conference is making available to the writers in the community one-on-one manuscript critiquing sessions. Professionals providing these critiques include: Daniel Anderson, a published poet who currently teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; Glenny Brock, a BSC alumna who is a freelancer, staff writer, and now editor of “Birmingham Weekly;” and Stacy M. Tintocalis, a published author of fiction and creative nonfiction who is an assistant professor in the creative writing program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The Hackney Literary Awards, sponsored since 1969 by the Cecil Hackney family of Birmingham, are presented during the conference each year. The competition awards $5,000 in prizes for poetry and short fiction, as well as a $5,000 prize for an unpublished novel. The Hackney Awards are open to writers nationwide.

Writing Today is supported by the Alabama Humanities Foundation, Books-A-Million, and Southern Progress Corp. Deadline for registration with guaranteed seating at luncheons is Feb. 29. For more information, contact Birmingham-Southern's office of College Events at 205/226-4921, or go to the conference website at

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